The Most Popular Languages for Data Scientists/Engineers

April 3, 2017

(This article was first published on Revolutions, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

The results of the 2017 StackOverflow Survey of nearly 65,000 developers were published recently, and includes lots of interesting insights about their work, lives and preferences. The results include a cross-tabulation of the most popular languages amongst the "Data Scientist/Engineer" subset, and the results were … well, surprising:

Most popular language

When thinking about data scientists, it certainly makes sense to see SQL, Python and R in this list. (I've only included the top 10 above.) But it's a real surprise to see JavaScript at the top of the list, and the presence of PHP is just unfathomable to me. I think it goes to show that the "Data Engineer" role is a very different type of job than "Data Scientist". Sadly, it's not clear what the relative proportion of Data Scientists to Data Engineers is in the survey, as it's not broken out elsewhere.

Nonetheless, there were several other interesting tidbits in the survey relevant to data scientists:

  • Overall, Python is the fifth most popular language, used by 32% of respondents. R ranks #15, used by 4.4% of respondents.
  • The top three databases are MySQL (44.3%), SQL Server (30.8%) and SQLite (21.2%).
  • The most popular platforms are Windows (41%), Linux (33%) and Android (28%).
  • AWS is used by 28% of respondents; Microsoft Azure by 11.4%.
  • Python is the "Most Wanted" language (indicated by 21% of respondents as a language they'd like to be using).
  • Oracle is the "Most Dreaded" database (63% of users would rather be using a different database).
  • Visual Studio is the most popular development environment within all developer categories except "Sysadmin/DevOps" (in which case it's vim).
  • In the US, R developers earn $100,000pa on average. For Python, it's $99,000. "Machine Learning specialist", "Developer with a statistics or mathematics background" and "data scientist" were the three highest-paying job categories in the US, all topping $100,000.
  • Developers consider Elliot Alderson from Mr Robot to be the most realistic portrayal of a programmer in fiction.


You can find a complete analysis of the survey data, follow the link below.

StackOverflow: Developer Survey Results 2017




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